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New Missouri law prevents local governments from imposing eviction moratoriums

Heartland Center for Jobs & Freedom
Posted at 10:22 PM, Jul 10, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo — On Tuesday afternoon, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed SB 895 into law.

The legislation takes the power away from local governments to enact moratoriums on eviction proceedings and leaves it up to state and federal government.

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During the pandemic, Jackson County and Kansas City joined several communities and municipalities that imposed the moratoriums.

The federal government issued a national moratorium for non-payment of rent.

"Luckily, I have never, never had to evict any of my renters," said Curtis Jay, a KCMO landlord. "There have been renters behind, and we worked through it."

Curtis Jay, landlord

Jay might be a familiar face to some people as a former KSHB 41 news anchor a decade ago.

Now, he's a landlord with several properties in KCMO. The new state law goes over well with him.

"When someone tells you at the government level, 'Hey, you can't evict,' but the government is not paying your mortgage, we've got an issue," he said.

There are 122,228 renter households in Jackson County and there have been 7,409 eviction filings in the past year, according to Eviction Lab, a national research team.

Gina Chiala's team sees it on a regular basis.

"When you are a low wage worker and rents are as high as they are, it doesn't take very much to put you in the cross hairs of eviction," said ​Gina Chiala, executive director and senior attorney for the Heartland Center for Jobs & Freedom​.

New Missouri law prevents local governments from imposing eviction moratoriums

Heartland Center for Jobs & Freedom represents people facing eviction.

Chiala believes SB 895 takes away protections for vulnerable renters.

"This is troubling," she said. "I think it's important local governments have the power and authority and ability to respond to local communities as they see fit."

The law won't take precedent over a state or federal mandate.

"It was an important policy during the height of the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable people," Chiala said.

The legislation is a message landlords like Jay want to send that when rent can't be paid, the bill should not have to fall on him.

"If the government stops the banks, then these landlords won’t have to evict, but will that happen? No," he said. "Will utility companies offer free utilities? No. Will grocery stores offer free groceries during a pandemic? Didn’t happen. No. These are things — having shelter, having food, and having utilities are your basic needs. Were any of these things free during the pandemic? No."